The appeal of Haider Ackermann was summed up perfectly by a trio of women sat on his front row this morning. One was dressed in a full traditional Japanese kimono, to her right, a French beauty in a tailored mannish overcoat and next to her an arty ingenue in something blue, languid and draping.
These are the signatures of Ackermann and today he staked a claim on the season with a quiet brilliance. Checkerboard tweeds, boucle shot with glinting threads and skinny, silk spotty scarves provided the frisson – the Ackermann woman is elegant for sure, but she looks to the label for tasteful interpretations of texture which give her permission to express her creativity.
“She’s artistic and fashion forward,” said Ruth Chapman, the co-owner of MatchesFashion.com. “Even though it looks tricksy on the catwalk you split it up and it works. It’s just cool.”
Things did get a bit fussy at points, mainly around the waist where peplums, strapping and folds of fabric complicated an other wise elegant line. But that didn’t tip the balance of brilliance. Loose top-stitching on the waistband of tailored trousers was echoed in the occasional strand of white cotton thread that had been nonchalantly blown through the hair of the models – that was delicate and it was clever. As was the entire collection.
Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were inspired by love in its purest form for their spring/summer 2015 couture show – and took us on a journey through time exploring this idea.
The collection danced between the modern – with poems appliquéd onto dresses in “pure elemental colours” – and the historical in the form of a sea-foam-billowing velvet dress with a ruffled chiffon collar.
And this is a combination that has very much become the language of the house. The duo manage confidently to walk the delicate line between fantasy and reality, their excellent use of artisan technique never more apparent than at couture when you can feel the handwork in the embroidery just at a glance.
And among this all came standout pieces in the shape of sheepskin refashioned as a corset and skirt ensemble, and a red velvet dress adorned with embroidered angel wings.
And so, with one collection Jonathan Saunders recalibrated his design career.
The first exit arrived with power and grace, an embellished black, cropped trouser, fitted underneath a black crombie coat, it was a confident first salvo for a spring collection; a statement that these clothes were operating on a season free plane, almost too arch to be bound by the rule book of seasonality, one that’s becoming increasingly outmoded.
The black look cleansed the palette beautifully and a lesson in the art of sartorial balance followed. Feminine met masculine as sweet summer tops decorated with one gathered fabric bow (the bowing and tying continued throughout in a riff on origami) were paired with tailored city shorts. Skirts were full, mid length and gathered: “It was very much about the design process and then that confident femininity that is really close to my heart, he said.”
Almost every piece had a sense of occasion, Saunders created a gentle pause half way through the show with a simple gold sheath dress. He then began flexing his instinct for texture with deep ruching on skirts and dresses.
“I worked with the most incredible Japanese mill,” he said, “on creating fabrics. A sense of lightness was the most important thing to me.”
Delicate cotton, sheath-thin shifts were printed with paper that had been painted with colour, a technique Saunders learnt at University. The Japanese influence was clear; and it felt like new territory for Saunders, even the palette of brown and camel was unexpected. This was clever, esoteric but not so much it wasn’t totally wearable. It was elevated, yet it was aspirational. And the show music? Rousing strings from the soundtrack to the Sci-Fi horror Under the Skin, and this collection did just that.
During Paris Fashion Week I was invited back by Joseph to help the wholesale team in their showroom. The position that I have is ultimately acting as the link between the buyers, the wholesale team, the dressers and the models. It means that I have to be extremely organised, understand the collection inside-out and back-to-front and work every minute of the day running around making sure that I am available to everyone everywhere.
Exhausting but I loved it.
The pre-AW15 collection sees the Joseph woman borrowing from every corner of her boyfriend’s wardrobe. She covets his oversized, heirloom knitwear and masculine tailored looks that evoke the cut and elegance of his old Etonian uniform (but they always fit her a size too big). Her tomboy attitude and slouch breathe a new lease of life into British menswear classics.
There is a sense of ease to the collection. Layers are built on layers, secured with various ties and wraps. It’s a play on proportion, volume, and longevity, focusing on the idea that luxury clothes, especially borrowed ones, get better with age. The fabrics, too are noble and traditional; glove leather, cashmere, lambswools, and felt textures; military felt, corduroy and flannel blend on the body with ease.
Lucky for me I was able to have the weekend off from all of the chaos and manic running around as my friend Grace was coming to visit me. She really couldn’t have picked a better weekend to come, with the sun shining beautifully everyday and celebrities here there and everywhere from all the fashion excitement we were two tourists running around Paris trying to make the most of everything.
I of course took here on my little tour of the city bumping into all sorts of fashionistas such as Bryan Boy wearing knee high golden Chanel sandles and We Wore Whats Danielle Bernstein looking as glamorous as ever. We stopped at all my favourite cafes along the way such as the beautiful Cafe Carette and the delicious Angelinas as well as eating at all the best places. L’Avenue on Saturday was particularly exciting as Kim Kardashian was munching away at the same time as we were!
The most perfect and beautiful weekend during Paris Fashion Week.